For those not yet ready to start a family or want to ensure they have the option in the future, egg freezing is on the rise.
The process, in which eggs are harvested, frozen, and stored for later use, is even offered as a fertility benefit by some companies. Facebook and Apple began covering employee egg freezing in 2014, followed by other big Silicon Valley companies. Pinterest announced in December 2021 that two cycles of IVF and egg freezing would be available to every employee globally. Financial institutions have also jumped on the bandwagon.
This trend is part of the growing and growing demand for egg freezing, which has only been accentuated by the pandemic. Clinics across the US and UK have seen a surge of patients freezing their eggs in recent years.
The process of freezing eggs is complicated, and online conversations about the topic sometimes lack nuance. On the internet, there is tons of information about freezing eggs. But the amount of information available is vast, which sometimes makes it difficult to navigate.
The process itself can also evoke complicated feelings. Dr Cesar Diaz-Garcia, medical director of fertility clinic IVI London, said the egg freezing procedure can “cause unexpected emotions”.
“It’s important to recognize that freezing eggs is a big decision for many people, so it’s a good idea to have a partner, friend or family member who supports you through the process,” he said.
Social media can also create a sense of community. In some online spaces, people who freeze their eggs can find support, comfort and advice from those who are undergoing or have gone through the process themselves.
Explore a variety of platforms
As Mashable’s Rachel Kraus explored, social media is full of advertisements for egg freezing. However, these advertisements may not be the best resource for finding answers. They are more about promoting a business rather than helping the individual, glossing over the cost, process, etc.
Instead, there are forums and groups that facilitate community-led conversations. On Facebook, for example, several private support groups exist for this purpose. The questions and answers here are niche and led by people who have gone through the process themselves.
Egg Freezing Support Community, for example, is a Facebook group designed for those interested in egg freezing. “If you’re wondering if egg freezing is right for you, or when is the right time to freeze your eggs, or how the egg freezing process goes, then this is the right place for you!” reads the description of the band.
Chloe Quinn, the group’s founder and administrator, tells Mashable that the group has grown “exponentially” since its inception: “I only dreamed it would be as helpful and supportive as it is today. .”
“Freezing eggs is a lonely, scary and expensive process. It can drain emotions and sanity, which is why support from women who understand what you’re going through is so important,” said Quinn, who is a advanced nurse practitioner. , said. “We aim to keep it as positive and supportive as possible without giving false hopes and unattainable expectations.”
Members of the group (or “Egg Tribe” as they like to call themselves”) value their privacy, Quinn says. The group has strict guidelines against harassment, abuse and spam. Its nature privacy also allows for open conversations.
Another option is Reddit, where threads about egg freezing often get high engagement. Like Facebook, it offers a space to anonymously and openly ask for advice.
Take r/AskWomenOver30, a popular subreddit with 130,000 members. Here, people have asked a number of questions about freezing eggs, including How stressful is freezing eggs? and How much should it cost to freeze my eggs? / Should I do it?
Likewise, groups like r/IVF and r/SingleMothersbyChoice, also provide the space to ask such questions or share personal experiences on the subject of egg freezing. Conversations include browsing dating while freezing your eggs or freezing eggs when your period is irregular.
On Twitter and Instagram, people who froze their eggs also shared their stories; there are multiple threads and posts, sharing the emotional nuances that go along with freezing eggs. Maxime Billick, resident physician at the University of Toronto, chose to freeze his eggs in January of this year. She took to Twitter to share her experience, in an honest and comprehensive thread. She included resources from medical journals, photos of herself undergoing the process, and why she chose to do it.
Billick said the response to his thread was “incredible”.
“A lot of people opened up to me after this post, or asked questions, or showed interest,” she says.
Dr. Safina Adatia also shared her personal egg freezing journey on a Twitter thread that garnered an equally positive response.
“I wanted to talk about my experience to hopefully help and inspire other young women to do the same,” she told Mashable. “I can’t tell you how many women have messaged me saying they were thinking about it and were so happy that I shared because my message gave them the push they needed to pursue it on their own- same.”
The two women who shared these threads said they did so because they felt like they hadn’t heard about each other’s experiences during the process. And they wish they had.
On Instagram, such conversations also appear under the hashtag #eggfreezing, which has over 54,000 posts and counts. Other communities on Instagram exist under #eggfreezingjourney, #fertilitypreservation and #eggretrieval. Here, there are posts from individuals, charities and organizations, each united in sharing the complexities of the fertility journey. Doctors share bright infographics on egg retrieval process; the women post photos of the procedure, describing in their caption what it took to get to this place. Posts are thoughtful and empowering, transparently explaining personal motivation to prolong fertility.
Writer Seetal Savla chose to share her own egg retrieval and fertility story online in 2019, but before that she watched other people’s communities and resources on Instagram. “At first, I just absorbed their experiences without engaging with them in any way. Reading stories about people (mostly women) struggling with similar issues made me feel finally seen. ”
Ask yourself the right questions
Freezing eggs can be a confusing time, with all sorts of questions arising depending on the individual. If you join a support group or contact people online, asking the right questions can be crucial.
Kayleigh Hartigan, founder of Fertility Mapper (a website that aims to provide clear information about fertility clinics), says that “there is a lot of information out there” and navigating through that information requires some thought.
“As you begin this process, ask: what do I want to know? ” she says. “Everyone will have things that are more or less important to them.” She says writing down such questions can help ease the feeling of overwhelm that accompanies the egg freezing process.
Hartigan encourages people to find a community suited to the individual and their questions before embarking on the adventure of egg freezing. These questions can range from the right clinic or nutritional advice to how to balance the process with work and a social life.
“These questions can be anything: how do they find a clinic, how much will it cost, how will the process work, how will it feel, do they need to do anything to prepare to the process, such as getting in shape or changing nutritional behavior. she explains.
She recommends that this practice can then help uncover the right communities and information. “The fertility journey can be extremely emotionally draining and physically challenging. When you’re in this process, you want the right care,” she says. “It’s just very complicated: it involves finances, emotions, health care.”
Beware of misinformation
There is, however, a disclaimer: there is a risk of misinformation and false advertising when looking at such hashtags on Instagram or exploring private groups. Eliminating these messages is important, and asking questions along the way is essential. Dr. Adatia said that if there is any hesitation, consult your personal physician or medical professional.
“I would advise reading everything with caution and checking the sources of your information to make sure it is reliable,” she recommends. “This type of procedure can be difficult and [if] you are paying out of pocket, it is important that you speak with your doctor to ensure that the person helping you with fertility is reliable and safe.”
Billick says the same thing, telling Mashable, “Go see a doctor you trust, someone who knows medicine, someone who has experience.”
She also said that many of her friends have come across misinformation online: “I suspect that if there’s a lot of information that’s incorrect. I’ve had friends who were told to buy supplements worth thousands of dollars to ‘improve the quality of their eggs,'” she says.
However, many people in these online spaces are simply looking to inspire or support others.
“It’s a privilege to comfort others online and to be entrusted with their personal stories,” as Savla says.
Hartigan says many people who share their experiences online are “desperate to help others”, while thinking for themselves.
“It’s a virtuous circle,” she says. “And some people aren’t comfortable sharing their stories with friends/family IRL, so going online means you can connect and hear from people going through the process, which might not be possible offline. .”